Today we visited the District Six museum, as well as District Six itself. It was heartbreaking to hear about the forced removal of over 60,000 people from District Six, located at the foot of Table Mountain, to the Cape Flats.
The one thing that stood out to me the most in the museum was a photo taken of Richmond Street when District Six was a flourishing area, and then behind it was a photo taken of the same street after the removal of the people and the demolition of the entire district. This hit me the hardest because I could never imagine being forced to leave my home, my street, or my entire community as I know it today, to be placed somewhere else and have my entire childhood and life be destroyed.
Also today we visited three different townships in the nearby area, Langa, Khayelitsha, and Guguletu. It was a complete eye opener to see how people are living on a daily basis in a one or two room shack made of corrugated iron.
No running water, no electricity, no bathrooms.
What was even more shocking was the fact that there would be hundreds upon hundreds of these homes with garbage and dirt in the pathways, yet literally right across the street there were homes made of brick or concrete that had a few rooms and some running water and some electricity.
I could not believe it. How would I feel if everyday I looked outside to see these small shacks, while I was somewhat better off?
Would I want to help? Or be selfish and not care because it is not my problem?
How would I feel if I was living in the shacks and saw these homes made of brick, and have a somewhat better life and home than I? How do I get that? Can I get that? Why won’t they help me?
I could never imagine being in either of those situations. It makes me extremely fortunate for EVERYTHING I have at home, and makes me realize how much I actually take for granted and never even think twice about. And yet even in these situations, you still find happiness within the communities and the children that are smiling and playing with whatever they have, and are so happy and content.
In one of the hostel’s there was a little girl eating breakfast, watching us, and when she was done- without even thinking twice- she walked over to the one place that had a sink and began to wash her bowl. I couldn’t believe it. She was adorable, she actually took the time to wash her bowl and put it back in her room when she was done. She was so happy with where she was and what she had.
Being able to see and visit these different township’s was definitely an unforgettable experience that I will forever cherish.